An Adventure Begins
A Miraculous Encounter
The Underwater Meadow
An Educational Encounter
A Restless Night
A New Day
A Playground Adventure
A New Friend
The Return Home
Index of Fishes 1
Index of Fishes 2
Index of Shells 1
Index of Shells 2
An Adventure Begins
Luna squinted as the first rays of sunlight broke though the surface of the sea and tickled her teeny weeny little feelers.
She rubbed her tiny eyes with her little feelers and looked around – and saw countless little beds, which all looked just like hers. The beds seemed to be thousands of little rainbow bubbles, and in each bubble there was a little baby snail, which again looked just like Luna herself.
It was as if Luna was looking into a thousand little mirrors. And all these thousand Lunas were moving, too. Luna was surprised at first to see herself so many times, but then she also became so very curious to find out about the world outside her bubble and suddenly those thousand little Lunas were not really as interesting, by far.
She considered briefly how to escape from her bubble and began to nibble at its delicate skin. Soon the hole was big enough and she prepared to leave her bubble cradle.
First she poked her head through the hole and looked left and right. Oh ... what a wonderful world. It looked like a big forest. But this was a forest without foxes, birds, rabbits, or even trees.
It was a world all under water, inhabited by corals, seaweed, fishes, crabs and so much more.
The rays of the sun breaking through the surface of the sea made it all sparkle in every conceivable colour.
Luna‘s heart was beating fast, as this new world was huge and teeming with unknown creatures. But Luna was no coward.
She took a deep breath and leaned forward out of the hole in her bubble and... ooops landed softly with her foot on the sand.
Yes... Luna had only one foot, but this foot was – as big as all of herself.
Try lying down on the floor on your tummy and imagine your foot to reach from your head – to your tummy – down to your feet...
Luna hesitated for a moment, not knowing what to do next.
She had no parents to tell her what to do, and what not to do. Her parents had given her and her siblings wonderful perfect cozy little cradles, but then they had left and were nowhere to be seen. Snail parents aren’t bad parents, but they are different from our parents.
Luna took all her courage and started towards the big underwater meadow that she had already been able to see from her bed.
A Miraculous Encounter
On her way to the underwater meadow she crossed a sand bar. From time to time she also passed some coral heads which looked just like big, brown chimneys. Between the corals, and above Luna, too, the sea was teeming with fish of all sizes.
Suddenly Luna saw what looked like yellow clouds of sand rising behind a coral. Intrigued Luna crawled forward to see where those mysterious clouds were coming from.
Behind the coral she found a beautiful and gigantic snail‘s shell in the shape of a pear, and just as shiny and yellow.
A stray grain of sand in her mouth made Luna cough and the big snail turned around ... ooops, and what was that?
It wasn’t a snail after all, no, it was a big, orange-coloured hermit crab looking out from the shell. Luna’s eyes widened and she froze.
The crab looked down at Luna with eyes which were at the tips of long antennae, while it cleaned its two claws off all the sand very carefully. Was this a bad and mean thief that had stolen a snail‘s shell? Luna hugged her shell tight when then the crab suddenly began to speak. “Hello, hello, and who would you be?“ it said.
“I am Luna,“ Luna answered, her voice trembling.
The hermit crab lifted its eyestalks in surpise and said: “But Luna, are you frightened of me? Don’t be frightened. My name is Bernhard and I am very honoured and pleased to meet you.“
Luna felt uneasy. She was still worried about the idea of shell-robbery.
Bernhard tried to sit down in front of Luna with all of his eight legs and two claws.
Can you imagine just how difficult it is to sit comfortably with all those legs - plus claws?
Now the hermit crab looked a bit less imposing, and with all her courage, and it took all of her courage to do it, Luna asked: “Did you steal a snail‘s shell?“ Bernhard was giggling. “No, no, no, don’t you worry. I just take empty shells that I find lying around, which, I make sure of that, nobody else needs.“
“But - why do you live in a snail‘s shell?“ Luna wanted to know.
After all they were called ‘snails‘ shells‘ and not ‘hermit crabs‘ shells‘!
Bernhard blushed a bit, especially around his eyestalks, and scratched his head with his claws with an ashamed look on his face. “Hmm, this would be a bit of a private matter. But, I will tell you.“
He looked left and right, lowered his voice and said: “Look, I have tried to build my own suit of armour as my larger relatives do. Unfortunately, I just can’t seem to do it. „
“As the end of my abdomen is very soft, very delicate, and very tender,
I need to protect it some other way. I look for a beautiful snail‘s shell and put it on, and then wear it until I find one even more beautiful.
If I don’t find one, I just don’t grow any bigger myself for some time.
I don’t take just any shell, you see, I wait until I find one bigger and better. Classy, isn’t it?“
“Ooops“, was the only thing Luna could think of to say.
Well, that was something of a surprise. That big orange hermit crab needed a snail‘s shell to protect himself . And only her and her relatives were able to build them: colourful, winding, solid, marvellous.
Luna felt a little less tiny as she was able to do something that others just can’t do. Luna thought what next to say to Bernhard, something nice, preferably, when she heard a low rumble. Bernhard looked surprised for a moment but then rose and said: “Well, I that this was my stomach.
When you came around the coral I was about to eat.“ Bernhard stepped from one leg to the – others and Luna realised he did not want to be disturbed while eating. “Bernhard, it was very nice to meet you! But now, I must be on my way to the underwater meadow. Bernhard, too, bid his farewell and watched Luna as she slid off. Luna turned back to wave to Bernhard with her tentacles, Bernhard lifted one of his claws and waved back.
And Luna happily slid on towards the big underwater meadow.
The Underwater Meadow
Slowly Luna left the bank of sand behind her. Before her was a sand drift, and she climbed up on top. And, lo and behold, what did she see from there?
The gates of the underwater meadow!
The gates were guarded on either side by two large noble penshells. The long and slender stems of the neighbouring seaweed were rocking softly with the current. It seemed they were stroking the fish swimming about amongst them. Luna had never seen so many colourful, fluorescent fishes before. All of this was very exciting and she slid down the sanddrift as fast as she could. Nevertheless, it seemed to take forever to reach the gate to the underwater meadow.
Completely out of breath she arrived after all and again felt really tiny between the two noble penshells which now looked gigantic from up close.
Suddenly a scallop shot past Luna from the left. It looked as if she was moving in reverse. Luna was shaking her feelers all confused, never before had she seen anyone swim backwards, when something obscured the light from above. Luna looked up and saw a giant turtle swimming past the gate to the underwater meadow. The turtle seemed to float weightlessly like a bubble. And then the current suddenly carried the delicious flavour of algae tickling Luna‘s osphradia.
Of course, now you are wondering what osphradia might be. I will tell you: snails‘ noses are called osphradia. What is more, they don’t have only one nose, or osphradium, like us, but two!! And they are positioned behind the gills on either side of the body. Yes, Luna breathes through gills, like fish do!! Ooh... the delicious scent of algae made Luna‘s tummy rejoice in anticipation.
She had to eat, now. Luna followed the wonderful scent and soon reached the meadow with ita lusciously green, juicy and yummy algae. She forgot all else around her for a while and fed and fed and fed, until her tummy was nice and full and rounded. And then she decided it was time for a little afternoon nap. No sooner had she found a cozy cranny between two corals she withdrew into her shell and was fast asleep. A few hours later Luna woke again. She came back out of her tiny shell and stretched good and proper, which felt really nice after lying all twisted in the shell for such a long time. While she was stretching, Luna looked around. On her right hand side was the underwater meadow, on her left hand side the scenery was made up of corals of every conceivable shape and form.
Wherever she looked, there were feather stars glowing in all the colours of the rainbow. Above her circled a gigantic manta ray. It was breathtaking, like paradise. So colorful, so magical. She was indulging in the beautiful sight, when she suddenly heard voices.
An Educational Encounter
“Left, right, straight ahead, hand to hand, in a band,
one behind, one ahead, single file, like on a thread,
Soon to land, song and drum, Florida, here we come!
Left, right, straight ahead, single file, pearls on a thread.“
Luna climbed as fast as she could to the top of a large round coral to find out what was going on.
Hardly had she reached the top when a long, very long, procession of crawfish filed past below. And each one held on to the one before with long antennae. I looked a bit lik a freight train with its countless carriages.
“Those were the good old days!“ there suddenly was a deep grumpy voice from up very close. Luna had not realized that a lobster had settled next to her and almost fell off her coral in fright.
“What days?“ Luna asked.
Slowly the lobster turned its head towards her and looked closely at Luna. “The time when I was young and was still able to migrate south,“ replied the lobster. “But why do your relatives migrate south?“ “You know, most of the time my relatives live happily in nooks and crannies between rocks. But at the time of the Winter storms they leave their homes and migrate to deeper waters.
It is calmer there than where they come from, and warmer, too.
Every year they have been passing by here, and I travelled with them for some distance, and it was always such good fun! We are only distantly related, but we always got along really well.“ Luna was about to ask, how he meant “only distantly related“ when she noticed that lobsters and crawfish indeed looked a bit different. To start with, the lobster had two large claws which the crawfish were missing. But apart from that they really looked very similar. “If you want,“ Luna offered, “I can climb down and ask the crawfish to stop and wait for you. “This is really kind of you,“ replied the lobster “but at almost a hundred years of age I would hold them up forever.“
“Up until a few years ago I would have outraced them all, even though the oldest crawfish is only fifteen years of age, but now my good old armour creaks and squeaks a bit too much.“ Luna looked again at the trail of crawfish, which had by then moved on quite a distance, indeed was hardly to be seen at the horizon. Sometimes she could still hear a low: “Left, right: straight ahead“ until they disappeared completely from sight. The lobster heaved a low, melancholy sigh and looked thoughtful.
“Soon here, too, the Winter storms will be felt. I should start and find myself a nice and cozy crevice.“
“How do I know that Winter is coming?“ Luna asked.
“The current gets cooler and the undertow gets stronger then. At those times be very careful not to crawl too far up into shallow water, that can be really dangerous then. A great many of your relatives climbed into the undertow, never to be seen again.“ With these words he bade farewell to Luna, turned very slowly and climbed down the coral in very, very, very slow motion. Luna stayed on the coral to enjoy the sight a bit longer.She realized that the sunlight was getting weaker and weaker and then there was a different light and a soft silver shimmer. Luna looked up and saw a full moon. White and majestic the moon stood in the sky. Around her, stars began to sparkle, and Luna noticed she was getting tired. After all the adventures of the day she decided it was now time to leave the coral and look for a safe shelter for the night. Hardly was she down from her coral she had found a cozy little crack in a rock. She climbed in and had retired into her shell for the night, fast asleep within the wink of an eye.
A Restless Night
Luna woke with a start an crawled out of her shell drowsily. She did not know how long she had slept, or what had woken her, but something had disrupted her sleep. “Psssst, psssst, hey you, can you hear me?“ Luna rubbed some sand out of her eyes and tried to find out where the voice had come from.
And saw nothing.
Only the dark shadows of corals and stones on the sand. She was about to resolve to herself that it must have been something she dramt, when she heard the voice again. “Psst, psst, hey you, can you hear me?“ Luna scratched her head with her feelers and said into the darkness: “Yes, I can hear you, but I can not see you at all.“ There was a rasping and grinding sound on her right. At that moment the full moon broke free from behind the clouds, and then Luna saw it. The large stone in front of her began to move, moving slowly towards her. A stone that moved! how could that be true? a stone that lived? Looking again, more carefully, she saw two telescope eyes protruding, pointed at her.
A living stone? with telescope eyes?
No, it was a goliath conch which had withdrawn almost completely into its unbelievably large shell. Luna had to tilt her head back as far as she could and she could still hardly see the end of the telescope eyes. Suddenly she was frightened and drew back into her shell quickly. But there was that voice again and she could still hear it. “Pssssst, no need to be afraid.“
That was easier said than done. That snail out there was at least a thousand times bigger than her, thought Luna. “Psst, pssssst, I only want to talk to you!“ Luna crept out of her house very slowly and carefully, always looking around.“
“What kind of a funny snail are you?“ said the goliath conch. That’s when Luna lost her temper. “Well, not only did you wake me, now you are being rude, too? I am not a funny snail at all.“ Luna fumed.
“Psst!“ said the large snail, “don’t get upset like that! everybody is going to hear and come for us!“ “Don’t you call me funny then.“ Luna really was furious. “Look, I am sorry, but all normal snails are night-active, and that means that you should be looking for food now, and not sleeping.“ “But I have eaten, in the morning, why not sleep now?“ Luna said in surprise.
“See, that is what I mean, you are a bit different,“ whispered the goliath conch.
“Why are you whispering?“ Luna asked. “That’s because our predators are out at night, too, and we have to be very careful of other snails and fish, or they may eat us!“ Luna shuddered. Other snails wanting to eat her? Oh my, that had to be a misunderstanding, Luna thought. Or was this a trap? As if she had read Luna’s mind, the goliath conch said to Luna softly: “No, don’t you worry, I am not a predator!“
Suddenly the light changed from the white moon glow to a silvery gleam. Luna and the goliath conch looked up and saw a seemingly endless shoal of barracudas just below the water‘s surface. There were at least a hundred of them. The white moonlight was reflected by their silvery bodies and covered the entire reef with a magical shine. Luna caught her breath. Not only was this a marvellously breathtaking sight, Luna also knew instinctively she had to be very careful of these animals. The goliath conch withdrew into her shell completely, at a snail‘s pace, but soon not even her telescope eyes were to be seen. Luna was torn between wanting to hide and wanting to see more, and decided she did not want to miss this spectacular sight. She knew she had to be veeeery quiet and very still in order not to attract the barracudas‘ attention. Now the barracudas were swimming in a circle, as if dancing around the moon - and now they were gone, as fast as they had come. Indeed Luna had been very lucky the barracudas had not discovered her. Slowly the goliath conches telescope eyes emerged, carefully scanning around for any signs of barracuda. Then it spoke again: “You had better withdrawn into your shell, curiosity kills, snails too.“ Suddenly Luna became aware of the fact that she just had been very lucky, and did not know what to say. After this new adventure she felt very sleepy again, took her leave from goliath conch and withdrew into her shell to sleep.
A New Day
Luna awoke late the next day and felt tired still. The night had just been too short and too full of excitement and interruptions. The thought of the barracudas still sent shivers down her little back. Carefully she climbed out of her shell and held her little feelers into the current. Oh, how wonderful it felt to stretch and wiggle, but then again there was a loud rumble from her stomach. Luna looked around and saw the luscious green of algae and seaweed close by. The rays of the sun breaking though the waters surface dipped the weed once more into a brilliant shade of green. Luckily, this morning seemed to start well, better than the last night had ended. Happily Luna headed for the seaweed which looked just like blades of grass swaying in a soft breeze, the water‘s current rocking it softly. Luna selected a tender, richly green stem and took a hearty bite. Yummy! Luna savoured the weed as it was melting on her tongue. “This is a little bit of all right,“ Luna thought and wanted to continue her breakfast with a tender light green leaf. She pulled and plucked, but was unable to take a bite. And at that moment someone protested “Ouch!“ All puzzled Luna let go of the leaf. The thought that seaweed could speak, now, that came as a surprise to her. And then she saw it! That weed had two eyes, at this very moment meeting Luna‘s with furious disbelief.
“Fancy that: bitten by a tiny snail, unbelievable!“
“I am so sorry, Mr. Seaweed! or Mrs.?“ Luna stammered. And then the weed began to laugh. “Seaweed, you honestly mistook me for seaweed! I really like that!“ At that moment part of a plant came loose and lo! and behold! it was a sea horse, in perfect camouflage, looking exactly like a stem and leaves floating about, these sea horses are called leafy sea dragons.
It was an impressively beautiful sight.
“Do you still think I look just like any common plant?“ the leafy sea dragon asked again.
“Not now,“ Luna had to admit, “but before I really was unable to tell you from weed, and this is why we had that accident ...“ “I am not someone to hold a grudge for long. And I do assume this appearance so that my predators won’t easily discover me. Actually, our encounter has been proof that my camouflage seems to be perfect,“ said the leafy sea dragon with a grin. “And I do not hurt anymore, either.“
Phew, Luna was glad the leafy sea dragon was no longer angry with her. In fact, now it positioned itself in front of Luna, made a bow and introduced himself: “My name is Ferdinand Lord Leafy Sea Dragon. There has been a small misunderstanding between us, nevertheless, I am glad to make your acquaintance...“
“My name is Luna, the little murex, and I don’t know about Lords...“
Suddenly Luna felt that Ferdinand became distracted. And indeed, a small water flea was bobbing up and down in front of him. First Ferdinand squinted a bit, pursed his lips and, exactly like a vacuum-cleaner, sucked the water flea in.
And gone it was.
“Yummy, this is the way I would advise anyone to start a day!“ Ferdinand said contentedly. “Ferdinand, please tell me, are you a fish? what type of creature are you?“ Luna needed to know. “Indeed I am a fish. And what is more, I am the only fish able to swim upright.“ Ferdinand replied, visibly proud of himself. Luna noticed that yet another water flea had caught Ferdinands attention, now it was paddling past, now it was gone, sucked in by Ferdinand.
Luna tilted her head, looked Ferdinand up and down again and noted. “Ferdinand, if you continue tucking in like this, your tail is going to be even fatter soon.“ Ferdinand‘s tail indeed was quite well rounded.
“You think a few water fleas would be that fattening?“ Ferdinand giggled.
“Sure, what else could it be?“ Luna was puzzled. “You are quite mistaken, young lady. I am now going to show you what you interrupted by nibbling at me.“ And at that moment Ferdinand began to twist and turn and wiggle.
It looked a bit like a leafy sea dragon – doing a square dance.
A few minutes later dozens and dozens of miniature Ferdinands were teeming around Luna. They quickly swam up to the surface to fill their air bladder to return hurriedly to Ferdinand and Luna.
“Congratulations!“ said Luna “You have become a father, and of so many little ones, who all look exactly like you. So you were pregnant! That thought never crossed my mind. Now I see, that that was why your tail was so thick.“ “Well, not exactly pregnant, I just incubate the eggs my wife lays until the babies hatch. So I can help her a bit with the hard work.“ At this moment a very pretty lady leafy sea dragon with amazingly beautiful eyes emerged from the weeds.
“Ferdinand, my hero!“ she purred.
Visibly proud they looked at their children together.
Luna did not want to intrude and quietly took off.
The Playground Adventure
Luna moved on in no particular direction. She left the seaweed behind her and passed a small forest of wonderfully colourful plumed corals. Between the stony corals there were seemingly countless small orange fish and Luna was once more thrilled by a simply breathtaking sight. She could not imagine how paradise could be any better than this.
Slowly she crawled on and soon reached a small sand bank. While she was considering which direction to take now, something was pulling, hard, at her left feeler.
Luna was all perplexed and unable to explain what had just happened - when it happened again! From the corner of her eye she saw a shadow flitting by above her. Luna turned as fast as she could to see what was going on.
And then there was a hard tug at her right feeler. Luna tried to turn again as quickly as she could to see who had nipped her. And saw nothing. There was nothing. But something had pulled at her feelers. And then again there was that fleeting shade. Luna looked up and saw the little villains! There were two young butterfly fish. They were silvery with orange stripes. But most unique were there pointed beak-like snouts.
“Hey, you, why are you teasing me like this?“ Luna shouted. The butterfly fish came closer and complained: “Look, we were bored.“ They said in one voice. “And that would be any good reason to pull someone‘s feelers?“ replied Luna.
“What else is there to do?“ they asked Luna and looked at her hopefully.
“Luna did not know what to say. One of the butterfly fish placed himself right in front of her, and looked at her askance with its big eyes.
“Never ever have I seen a snail as small as you.“ “I am only a few days old, you see,“ replied Luna “I am soon going to grow.“
“You are still a baby then! “
“I am no baby, I am Luna!“ Luna was offended.
“Yes, yes, don’t you get upset like this. I am Pauli, and this is my sister Paula,“ he was pointing at another butterfly fish with his pectoral fin.
Paula was swimming alongside her brother and looked at Luna curiously, too. “Where are you heading?“ Paula asked. “I don’t know yet, I just wanted to move on.“ said Luna. Paula gave Pauli a meaningful look. Her pointed beak was twitching.
“Paula, you know we are not allowed...“ Pauli seemed shocked. “Pauli, you are such a killjoy. We just have to make sure our parents won’t find out.“ Paula said impatiently.
“What is it you are not allowed to do?“ asked Luna. “You know, at the end of the sand bar there is a simply awesome spot to play. You can catch air bubbles or swim somersaults,“ Paula blurted out. Wow, now that did sound like a lot fun, thought Luna.
She could also see Pauli‘s reservations waning in anticipation of this great adventure.
“O.K.“ said Pauli. “Are you coming, too?“ they asked Luna in unison. “Of course, I have to see this playground adventure, too!“
Hardly had she finished the pair of butterfly fish took off.
“Please wait for me!“ Luna shouted after them, and crawled as fast as she could. From time to time Paula and Pauli stopped and waited for Luna to catch up.
Soon Luna started to believe that that playground was at the other end of the ocean, as she was slowly but surely getting totally out of breath. And then she saw it, on the horizon. Bubbles were whirling, swirling and twirling. Millions and zillions of them. The sea had turned into an ocean of little whitish air bubbles! Pauli and Paula slowed down for Luna to crawl up. “Promised too much?“
Luna was thrilled. Together they headed for and right into this - bubble bath. Pauli and Paula tried to burst the bubbles with their long snouts.
But the bubbles were always just a split second faster. The bubbles tickling Luna‘s feelers made her laugh. Wow, this was indeed exciting. “Come on!“ called Paula “let’s move on a bit further, to the place where we can do rollercoaster somersaults. Luna followed them through the bubbles.
The bubbles became denser and more obscure and then Luna noticed a strange force pulling her foot.
In the Surf
Pauli and Paula were doing somersault after somersault.
Luna wondered how she could manage such a somersault, too, and withdrew into her shell, when the somersault began, all without her doing.
She was spinning and whirling again, and again, and again, and she hoped this would never end, never had she moved at such a speed. Luna was not sure if she heard Pauli shout her name, but she did not want to stop. She turned, faster, and faster, when, after some time, she was beginning to feel a bit sick. She tried to come out of her shell, but something invisible was blocking her. Luna tried again with all her might to get out, but was only able to peek out a little and see that all around her was brightly white. She was unable to venture further and had to withdraw again. Now Luna had the feeling her stomach was turning faster than herself. Oh Lord, what was happening? would this ever stop? And then Luna remembered the lobster‘s words. She was sure it was that undertow the lobster had been telling her about. Luna felt even worse than before. Hadn’t the lobster said that hardly anyone caught in the undertow ever came back? Luna wanted to cry.
She desperately tried to understand what to do, when suddenly the whirling stopped. She was turned a few more times and then it stopped. Luna did not feel like leaving her shell to find out why it had all ended so abruptly. She only wanted her stomach to stop turning.
... and then, Luna was washed ashore...
Saskia and her dad were looking for shells together already very early in the morning that day.
They were looking very carefully at the ground while they were walking along the beach looking for shells. Saskia found her first treasure soon: there was a beautiful shell called ‘banded tulip‘.
She picked it up and looked inside if it was still inhabited by anyone. She knew, lived-in shells had to be returned to the ocean. Saskia did not want to kill someone just because she wanted to enjoy the beauty of a shell, or even steal someone‘s home. After all, she did not want anyone to just take her beautiful bedroom and simply kick her out, or even kill her!!!!
As she found the shell to be empty, she carefully placed it into her bag. She saw her father waving to her. Saskia ran to see what he had found. Oh, it was a really large lightning whelk‘s empty shell. Never had she found one as marvellous before, with dark brown stripes. So far they had all been smaller, with light brown stripes.
Her dad put it in the bag with the others and they walked on. They found many more empty shells and bivalves on their way that day and their bag was filling up nicely.
“Dad, how are snails‘ shells made?“ Saskia asked while they were looking around.
“There are snails which secrete a substance through their skin which then becomes solid and forms the shell. Others do not, actually, they are called slugs. Even when they are very tiny, snails already have a mini-shell.“
“And what is that substance called? which then becomes the shell?“
“It is partly calcium carbonate, partly a protein called Conchiolin.“
“And why is it that shells are not long and slim, just like snails?“
“The way snails grow saves space and material, as they curl up in their shells. It is a bit like a spiral staircase. Just imagine how big and long and unwieldy shells would otherwise be. Many snails seek shelter in cracks between corals. If they had long shells, they would be unable to hide there.“
“Then snails‘ bodies must be really flexible or do they sometimes get backaches?“ askes Saskia.
“No, they do not get bachaches, as they do not have any bones, like us. Those animals without bones are called molluscs.“ replied her dad. Saskia paused to think over what her dad had just told her.
Saskia and her dad continued on their way along the beach. “And who paints the snails?“ Saskias dad smiled and said: “Nobody. It is believed that the colours and patterns are the effect of the different nutrients they eat. The pigment contained in their food is secreted through little pores through the snail‘s skin.“
And what is the difference between a shell and a clam?“ Saskia continued to ask.
“A clam, or bivalve is made of two identical corresponding halves. A snail, sometimes also called monovalve, is unique.“
Saskia walked on thoughtfully.
Luna felt all weak and increadibly hot.
All dizzy she poked her head out of her shell. The sun was unbearably hot on her feelers and it was hard to breathe. Luna’s heart sank, she knew now this had to be the land which the lobster had warned her about. But now it was too late. Luna stretched to find the way back to the sea. But she could only hear the waves, not see them. She tried to crawl towards the sounds of the sea, but she had to give up soon, because the sand was too hot for her to touch. Weary and desperate she withdrew back into her shell and cried herself to sleep. Soon Luna woke again because the ground below her started to shake.
She heard voices through the walls of her shell. The tremors were getting stronger and the voices became unbearably loud. She started to shiver with fear. Suddenly she was whisked away and up and all was quiet again. The silence seemed to linger and Luna dared to poke her little head out of her shell again. This was not the hot sand under her foot any more she felt, but a soft surface with deep trenches. She was able to see through one of these trenches that she was hovering far above the sandy beach. She did not know what she liked better: the hot sand or being this high up above ground. Curiously she lifted her head and immediately froze, as if carved in ice. She had never before seen such colossal creatures. And those big eyes. They could not be fish, as those only lived in the water. So, what kind of giants were they?
And then there were these loud voices again and Luna quick as a flash withdrew into her shell.
Oh Lord, would she be eaten now? Would they hurt her? Would she ever see the ocean again?
Luna believed herself about to depart forever into snail heaven. She could not understand what the giants were saying, they spoke a language unknown to her. Why, oh why had she not listened to the lobster in the first place??
Of course Luna did not understand human speech, the language Saskia and her dad were speaking. Saska had found Luna on the beach in the sand and picked her up. She was holding Luna in her hand to find out if the shell was still inhabited. And it was. There was a small snail inside, looking out very shyly. “Daddy, look! there is a tiny snail in here! We have to save it!“ Saskia screamed as her father hurried towards her. “Hmm,“ he said, “yes, we really need to help here.“ “Shall we carry it back to the sea?“ Saskia suggested. “Only carrying it back to the water may not be enough, the waves may return it back to the shore again soon.“ her dad replied. “The further out into the sea we take it, the better the chances that the waves will not bring it back.“ “But how? We don’t have a boat!“ Saskia remarked with a serious face. “Well, then we will have to throw it as far out as we can.“ Her dad suggested. Not completely convinced, Saskia agreed with a nod. Carefully she carried Luna back to the sea and handed her to her father. He took her, took careful aim and and threw her as far as he could out into the ocean. Saskia closed her eyes and implored the guardian angel in charge of tiny snails to assist this little snail‘s safe return to sea. As Saskia opened her eyes again, she saw the shell disappear in the sea.
A New Friend
Luna felt a hard impact accompanied by a loud splashing sound. Soon after she felt herself descending very softly. Luna felt she had landed in cotton wool. All pillowy and soft. She crawled out of her shell and, lo and behold, all around was water again. She tested the ground with her foot, looking forward to the wonderful sensation of wet sand.
But another surprise!
What she felt was not sand, or coral, but something entirely new. Somehow the surface felt rough and dry. She looked down and saw that she had landed on something like a flat stone, a kind of slab. “Who’s that? tickling my back?“ she heard from below. Wow, I have never before met a stone that can talk, thought Luna. But when the stone began to turn she understood – it was no stone after all. And again said the voice from below. “Hello, hello, little snail, where have you come from?“ Luna looked down – into two eyes protruding from the stone, watching her.
“I came flying,“ said Luna.
The two eyes widened. “A flying snail, never before have I met a snail that can fly,“ said the mysterious creature. “No, no, no! I can‘t fly, I was thrown.“ Luna explained. “Unheard of.“ Said the creature and asked Luna for her name. Luna introduced herself and and gave a brief summary of her adventure in the undertow, and how she had been washed ashore, of course she also mentioned the giants that had returned her to sea.
“Wow, you have been really lucky! only few creatures of the sea ever returned from land.“ the creature was impressed. “And who are you?“ asked Luna. “Oh, I am Kurt the blue-spotted ribbontail ray. I just wanted to have a bit of a break when you landed on me.“ replied Kurt. Luna looked down, and indeed, Kurt had spots all over his body. Luna‘s curiosity became mixed with a bit of fear when she also discovered that Kurt possessed a long sting. Maybe he was not all that nice after all??? When Kurt noticed Luna‘s sceptical glance he said in a calming voice. “Yes, yes, I know, that sting is quite large, but I only need it for self-defence.“ Phew, Luna was relieved. “Kurt, is it because of me that your body is so flat.“ Luna was a bit worried. She felt Kurt starting to shake below her foot.“Hey, I loved that!!! nonono, I have been that flat before you landed on me. Wow again, this is hilarious! Wow, wow, wow, all my cartilage skeleton is convulsed with laughter, how rare a treat!“
“You know, I am this flat, because it is better for hiding in the sand.“ “But, are you a fish?“ Luna asked Kurt “Yes, I belong to the cartilaginous fishes, like sharks, you know.“ “Me too, I don’t have bones either.“ Luna remarked. “Well, I do have bones, of sorts, but their make is are a bit different from the one of most other fishes. With sharks, and us, it is cartilage, not bone.“ Kurt explained.
They fell silent for a moment.
“What now?“ Kurt asked Luna. Luna noticed what she most desired in her heart was to return home, and asked Kurt if they were very far from her coral reef. Kurt calculated for a moment and explained that it would be about a two to three day‘s journey for a snail. Kurt saw that Luna felt all sad. She had not believed herself that far away from home.
“You know, Luna, I am going to take you there. ‘Flying‘ with me it will be not more than half a day‘s journey – for this snail.“
Luna beamed with joy – up to the tips of her little feelers. Kurt asked her to buckle up – or down - to make herself comfortable for the journey and took off.
Now Kurt and Luna flew over sanddrifts and coral reefs - and now they crossed a garden of garden eels, which looked like giant earthworms, flabbergasted they gaped at the flying snail, never before had they seen such a thing.
When they were heading for a school of featherfin coralfish, Kurt dipped down steeply to avoid a clash, and whipped past under them.
There can be nothing better than gliding like this, Luna was overwhelmed with joy.
The Return Home
Luna saw so many breathtaking sights during her ‘flight‘ and the speed and the dashing was so much fun that she now wished the journey would take a bit longer, forever really.
But as all good things, their trip, too, had to come to an end at some point, and Kurt soon started to descend. Just before they had dived right through a yellow cloud of little fish and Luna just had to cheer loudly. Very softly Kurt touched down in the sand just before the reef. “Little Luna, you are home again,“ said Kurt “I hope you enjoyed your flight!“ “Kurt, it was so wonderful, I would so love to continue.“ Luna sighed. At this moment Luna heard someone shout her name, loudly.
When she turned she saw Pauli and Paula dashing towards her. They both looked a bit pale around their beaks.
“Luna, Luna, you are back!!“ “We missed you sooo much!“ “Suddenly you were gone!“ “We tried to warn you, but somehow you did not hear us!“ Pauli and Paula were reeling with excitment. Kurt cleared his throat to attract Luna‘s attention.
“Dear little Luna, I now must be returning to my sand bar. Please do take very good care of yourself. I very much hope we will meet again, flying together is so much more fun.“ “Thanks a million! for your great help and the wonderful, wonderful flight.“ Luna replied, a bit saddened. Kurt took off and waved farewell to Luna again with his sting.
Pauli and Paula gaped at him and Luna and him with open beaks, and watched Kurt gliding off elegantly.
Pauli bombarded Luna with questions and more questions. Who that had been just now, where she had been all that time, what had happened to her.
And Luna told her friends all about her dangerous adventure. At nightfall they found themselves a cozy safe crack in a rock to hide – and the stories continued there.
When their little eyes became heavy they cuddled together for the night and together they dreamt of more adventures to come.
Text Copyright Holder: Illustration Angelika Zobel
Text and picture editing Heike Siewert
All copyrights by Heike Siewert
Translated from the German by Eva Schätz
Release Date: 11-06-2008
All Rights Reserved
Every day is an exciting experience!